Blogging with Helen

Experiencing Life With The Triplets

January 11, 2006
Q. How long did it take you to get back in shape?
A. To be honest I feel like I'm still getting in shape. My second year in the league (2001) was by far the best season I had. I was down to 150 pounds and in the best shape of my life. Well let me take that back, after working with Muggsy, this may be my best season yet. But it was tough trying to get back in shape.

I had been out so long I had to start from the beginning. The doctors told me I could start working out eight weeks after I gave birth. He told me to gradually get back into it, but me being the athlete that I am I tried to do to much to soon and had a set back where I couldn't do anything for another two weeks. (In my head, I was trying to get back and play the same summer.)

My kids were born on April 13, 2002, I gained 60 pounds. Talk about pain on the knees. After I had the babies all the weight went to places it didn't need to go. For those who know me, know I am already bottom heavy, imagine and additional 20+ pounds. Again those who know me, know no matter what size I was I had to look cute. So I went to Lane Bryant and brought me some nice pieces. I didn't buy that much because I was not planning on staying that size long.

I want to thank the Cleveland Rockers Organization for helping me get back into playing shape. They found a personal trainer for me (Chaliza Fonza with the Ohio State University). I would go to the University and she would work me out. I would also travel to Cleveland once a week for three to four days, do appearances and work out with the coaches. There was gossip about Cleveland drafting another point guard so I really had to put in work to prove to them that I could pick up where I left off.

I did that, working my way into the starting position and carrying my team the 2003 play-offs. I wasn't as quick as I was before the kids but I held my own. But I would have to say the hardest part about getting in shape was the mental aspect. I have always thought I was mentally tough but after the babies man I didn�t realize how painful it was to get in shape. I had to learn to be positive and say things like I can do it instead of saying I�m not going to make it, or I can�t do this anymore. I realize now how tough it is for the average person trying to lose weight or get in shape it�s harder than you think.

Q. What kind of support did you get with triplets?
A. The Cleveland Rockers (the team I was playing for at the time) were very positive and did all they could to help me. I didn't have an agent at the time and I knew I had to tell Dan Hughes, the coach of the Cleveland Rockers. I didn't know how he would respond so I called Mike Cound (my current agent) and said, "Hey Mike you still interested in being my agent?"

He said, "Yes."

Then I said "Good because I'm pregnant with triplets."

He laughed and we talked about some things and he was still delighted to represent me. He called the Rockers organization and told them the news. I received a call from Dan Hughes and he said he was going to miss me but he was behind me 100%. That meant a lot to know the coach and the organization were behind me. They sent the babies and me gifts, and Coach Hughes even came to Columbus to visit me in the hospital.

I would have to say my family and close friend were my backbone, though. They were there for me in anyway I needed them. I actually had two baby showers; one at Penn State and one in Columbus. We received so many gifts, we really didn't have to buy much for the babies first year.

My agent worked a deal with Gerber and Kinder Kraft where Gerber sent 10 boxes of all their products from cereal, baby food, eating utensils, shampoo, etc. and Kinder Kraft sent me three 4-in-1 cribs for the babies (which we still have). My oldest brother and his wife brought me a triplet stroller. My other brother brought the mattress for the cribs. I mean I received so many clothes, pampers that I had three of everything. So I kept one at my house, one at my mom's, and one in Pittsburgh at Orlando's mom's house so when we traveled, all we had to remember to pack was the kids.

December 13, 2005
Q. Did you have a lot of help with your kids?
A. Because triplets are rare and it was the first set in our family I got a lot of help because everybody wants to say they watched triplets. I think everybody just wanted to see if they could handle three babies at one time. A lot of times people would come and just take one which was fine by me, because the less the better.

People usually ask do I have a favorite and I tell them it changes day by day. But those who know me would say JaJuan is my favorite because he is a momma's boy.

What happened though was when they were little, people would come over and want to feed or play with Jalen because he had a head full of big curly black hair and his personality was open or Nevaeh because she was the only girl. So that left me with JaJuan who I would cuddle with the majority of the time so yes, we do have a special bond.

He has grown to think I am his mother and his mother only. If I would hold or play with one of the other two he would come over there and try to pull them off me and say "That's my mommy." He understands now that I am all of their mommies and he is learning to share. He is still a mommy's boy and if you see me with them he is the one I'm dragging on my leg.

The other two will say "Mommy, I want to go with such-and-such" and JaJuan will look up at me and say "Mommy I want to stay with you." Sometimes if he sees the other two are having fun he may go with them, most of the time pulling me to go with him.

But to answer the question, yes, I had a lot of help during the evening. During the day I had them all to myself. My first year was really a blur. But my mom, Orlando's mom, my brothers and their wives, my cousins, aunties, and one of my neighbors were all there when I needed them and sometimes when I didn't need them. So again, my family was the best.

Q. Did your triplets have to stay in the hospital long?
A. My kids were in the NICU for 10 days. I was able to go home after 3 days.

I was so tired of that hospital. I had been there for three months on bed rest before I gave birth and I was ready to see, smell, and touch the outside world. They would allow me to take a wheelchair ride once a week in my last month but still I wanted to sleep in my own bed.

We went to see the babies every day during feeding times. On the 10th day we went to feed them and the doctor said "Okay are you guys ready to take your triplets home?"

Me being very serious thinking I really had a choice responded "Ummm�no not yet?"

The nurse laughed and said,"Well you better get ready because they are going home today."

And of course what did I do? I cried because I wasn't ready, I was content with visiting them at the hospital. Once we got them home I was so delirious. My neighbor came over to see the babies and picked up one of the babies. They had been wearing hats and when she picked the baby up their hat had fallen off. You should have seen me, my reflexes made me dive toward the hat to catch it. Everyone had stopped what they were doing and was looking at me like I was crazy.

After a moment of silence my mom said �Helen what the heck are you doing?�

�I thought the babies head fell off.� I said starting to cry again.

Now my family is a supportive family but they like to have a good time (at anybody's expense) so when I made that comment they fell out laughing not caring I had began to cry again. They were used to me crying now, that�s all I did. After my mom finished laughing she told me to get some rest.

See, I told you I didn�t know anything about babies.

November 28, 2005
Hello my favorite people in the whole world. Well, besides God, family, friends and my teammates, you all are my most favorite people.

Welcome to my blog!

I have been selected to write this blog and I feel truly honored. But I'm going to do something different with the blog. I am not going to write about basketball because I'm not playing anywhere. I'm just here in Charlotte getting killed by my new coach Muggsy on the court. He forgets we have 6 months before the season but hey "what doesn't kill me only makes me stronger," right?! But it's cool. I'm enjoying myself here in Charlotte. I'm actually working in the office with sales and marketing, so if you want to buy Sting tickets and I do encourage you to, give me a call. Okay?

Anyway, because everyone is always asking me about my kids and how I handle them, I'm going to tell you. I'm going to try and give you a weekly update of what the kids and I do. You all will probably get tired of hearing about my rugrats and I'll probably start getting emails telling me you all don't care about my kids and what they are doing anymore. But guess what? I don't care, you're going to hear about them anyway. I'll try to mix it up and give you a little about basketball, but not much - it will be all about the kids.

Where do I begin? I guess I'll start with the most frequently asked questions I get when people have the opportunity to talk to me. I'm a talker and sometimes I tell people more than what they ask for, so bear with me and enjoy the life of a working mother with triplets.

Q. How many months along were you when you found out you were pregnant with triplets?
A. I found out I was having triplets at six weeks. I wasn't able to do any physical activity but walk from that moment on. Let me tell you how stressful that was. Being a professional athlete and doing high intensity activities and only being able to walk was frustrating. I was considered a high risk pregnancy and the only good thing about that was I had to go see the doctor every three weeks, so I had a chance to see the babies grow inside of me. I always asked for the ultrasound pictures. If I find my box full of pictures that got lost, I will post the ultrasound pictures so you can see how they grew.

Q. What was your initial reaction when you found out you were having triplets?
A. I had gone to a women's clinic, where they did an ultrasound. The doctor performing the ultrasound said with a smile "Well, would you like to see?"

I smiled back with excitement and said yes. When he turned the screen around I didn't know what I was looking at so I asked, still grinning. "Where is the baby?" He responded joyfully. "There's one, there's one, and there's one."

I looked at him and tears just started falling down my cheeks. "Triplets? Oh my gosh, nooooo!," I cried. They tried to explain to me that everything was going to be okay. But I was so scared; I didn't know a thing about babies. All I knew was basketball; I had never baby-sat a day in my life. What was I going to do with three babies?

On the ride home, I called Orlando to tell him the news. He didn't believe me until I arrived home with the ultrasound pictures. I think he went into shock. The next person I called was my mother. When she heard my voice she knew something was wrong.

"What's wrong baby?" she asked in her motherly tone.

"Mom I'm pregnant.

"Well that's okay baby. You have done everything I've asked of you. Don't worry about basketball because you'll be able to get back in shape and start where you left off."

I was still crying as she tried to calm me down. "Mom I'm pregnant with triplets."

All I heard next was the phone drop and screaming in the background. "My baby is having triplets, my baby is having triplets." I don't know who was over there but everybody was screaming and clapping and I'm still crying.

My mom got back on the phone and said, "Baby this is a blessing."

"No it's not it's a curse", I said.

My mom laughed and explained to me that God wouldn't give me anything that I couldn't handle and that I would be okay.

I was still at Penn State (going on my 6th year) doing my student teaching. I was to graduate in December. Well, the triplets and I would graduate in December and as bad as I wanted to quit and go home to my mom I knew I had come too far not to get my degree.

The teachers I worked with were very understanding and did any and everything they could to help me get through my student teaching. Orlando, the triplets, my mom, and me made it work. My phone bill was probably $500 a month. I called my mom everyday. Oh and my best friend Andrea Garner, but I didn't tell my mom because she was paying the bill for me.

Check back over the next several days to read more about Helen's life with triplets.